The ministry of catechesis holds an important place in the life and mission of the church and in the faith formation of the people of the God. Therefore, the Church considers catechesis as her great responsibility and inalienable right. Jesus, before his ascension into the heaven, entrusted to the apostles the mission to proclaim the Gospel to the entire creation and make disciples of all nations by baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them. Taking up this responsibility from the Lord the Church has always kept the ministry of catechesis in high esteem. Catechesis is an education to faith. In this process the child is oriented towards a meaningful relationship with God in his life situations.
In order to give the traditional faith formation for our children, we started Catechism classes in 2007 by the Committee with the initiative of Mr James Zachariah. At first, it was a single class in Wilton, but when the number of pupils increased, it became two. At the end of the year there were 46 children. The arrival of Fr. Johnson Chalissery as the Chaplian of Syro-Malabar Community gave a boost to the faith formation programme. In 2008, when more families came to Cork, we started another unit in St.Francis Church, Cork City. Catechism was continued in both centres on four Sundays, with the fifth Sunday Mass and Catechism at Clogheen, where pupils of both locations would join together at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. It was a great opportunity for the children to mingle each other. The catechetical educational year was from September to June every year. Annual examinations were conducted and children were awarded prizes for their achievements. An option to write the exams either in Malayalam or English was given to the children.
First Holy Communion and Confirmation in Malayalam were started in 2008. Different activities for our children such as camps, retreats, picnics and Bible Quizzes were organised. Our children were given training for Altar service and they are actively participating in it. Orientation training was also started for the teachers. Christmas, New Year and Sunday School Annual day celebrations were started and are still continuing every year. Prayer books in Malayalam, English and ‘Manglish’ were provided for our children. Special School bags were also given to our Sunday school children.
Fr. Johnson Chalissery was our director for 3 years and went back to India in January 2011. Fr. Paul Payyappilly came to Ireland in January 2011 and became the new director of the Catechism. He continued the work of Fr. Johnson and served our community until July 2012.
Fr. Francis George Neelankavil was appointed as our new director in October 2012. Malayalam Language classes were started in 2013 at the City Centre just before Catechism to encourage children to learn our mother tongue. The academic year was changed to September to April as per parental request. Catechism was continued in both mass centres, until the end of 2014.
From 2015 onwards, there is only one Mass centre and one Catechism centre for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Cork-Wilton. Activities such as Children’s retreat, camps, picnic and seminars for teachers etc were continued as before. Awards were introduced for children who achieve academic excellence in their School State examinations and were given on the Sunday School Annual day.
Fr. Francis George Neelankavil continued his support and hard work to our community until he went back to Kerala in May 2016. In November 2016, Fr. Sibi Arackal came from Kerala to Cork and took over the charge as our new Director. Activities such as first Holy Communion, Children’s retreat, Sunday school camps, picnic and seminars for teachers etc. were continued as before. Garda vetting was done for Catechism teachers, Trustees, Sacristans and Choir members who are in contact with children. Two safeguarding representatives were appointed from our community for monitoring and reporting any safety concerns regarding children. A prayer book, named “Viswassa Deepthi” was produced in ‘Manglish’, in 2017 for our children to participate actively in our liturgy. Two PTA representatives were elected yearly and their support is also much appreciated.
Our children are active members of the Church Choir and altar service team. As of today, in the 14th year, we have 31 dedicated and dynamic teachers and 145 enthusiastic pupils in level I through XII. Our Catechism is being spiritually guided by our Parish Priest and the Director of Catechism, Fr. Sibi Arackal, for the smooth running of the programme. We greatly acknowledge and appreciate the dedication and hard work of all our previous Chaplains, Catechism teachers, parents’ representatives and all who generously rendered their service for the faith formation of our children.
More details about our catechism can be found under “Catechism Procedures and Guidelines”.